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UTLA PHYSICAL EDUCATION “FOR THE HEALTH OF IT!”

NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2007


Helping Children Move More, Eat Well, Stay Healthy, and Do their Best in School and in Life

See the UTLA PE YouTube videos on our website at Quality Education, Physical Education and Shared Use

Robert García, Executive Director and Counsel at The City Project; UTLA PE Campaign Steering Committee; Chair of the LAUSD School Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee from 2000-2005. Adapted from United Teacher, the newspaper of United Teachers of Los Angeles.

UTLA has launched a physical education campaign to provide places and polices for children to move more, eat better, stay healthy, and do their best in school. Why? For the health of it. Physical education matters. We are failing our children in fitness. Physically fit students do better academically and do better in life.

The UTLA campaign has three main goals in the first year. First, a 55:1 cap: cap physical education class size with up to 55 students per teacher. The 55:1 cap will put physical education on an even footing with academic classes. Second, twenty a day: enforce state physical education laws requiring an average of 20 minutes of physical education every day for elementary school students. It’s the law. Third, a certificated PE instructor at every elementary school. It’s only fair to the students and teachers.

Move More. LAUSD has not enforced state physical education requirements for years. Evidence-based research proves how important moving more and eating well are for student health, youth development, and academic performance. Increased physical activity improves academic performance. Students who take part in sports and other after school activities tend to stay in school. Yet over 87% of LAUSD children were not physically fit under state Fitnessgram standards in 2004. The five largest LAUSD PE class sizes averaged 93 students in middle schools and 87.5 in high schools. Physical education classes should provide active minutes, not “sitting around waiting for the bell to ring cause there’s no balls or courts or coach watching” minutes.

At LAUSD’s South Gate High School, 1,600 children took the state Fitnessgram test and not one child passed. Forty schools did not have a single physically fit student. Less than 10% of students were physically fit in nearly one-third of the 605 schools in LAUSD. Only eight schools had student populations that are more than 50% physically fit.

LAUSD Children Failing Fitness
Percentage Physically Fit …………..Number of Schools in LAUSD
0%…………………………………………..4
01-5%……………………………………….5
86-10%……………………………………..96
11-15%……………………………………123
16-20%……………………………………..83
21-25%……………………………………..75
26-30%……………………………………..42
31-35%……………………………………..38
36-40%……………………………………..22
41-45%……………………………………..16
46-50%……………………………………….4
>50%………………………………………….8

The levels of child obesity are intolerably high even for children in the best neighborhoods—ranging from 23% to 39% throughout the Los Angeles region. But there are also unfair disparities in the most disadvantaged communities. 91% of LAUSD children are children of color, and 74% are low income (qualify for free or reduced meals). Latino and black children disproportionately suffer from obesity and diabetes and other diseases related to inactivity. LAUSD provides 71% more play acres for non-Hispanic white students than for Latino students in elementary schools. Only 103 out of 605 LAUSD schools have five acres or more of playing fields, and those tend to be located in areas that are disproportionately wealthy and non-Hispanic white. There are only 30 joint use agreements between LAUSD and the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department as of April 2006.

Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick has published an audit calling for the shared use of schools and parks as part of a strategic plan to improve recreation in every neighborhood and alleviate unfair disparities.

The UTLA campaign can help achieve those goals by supporting a master agreement to keep schools and pools open after school and on weekends, and by opposing pay to play fees for children who cannot afford them.

Eat Well. Healthy eating is critically important to improve health and reduce obesity and diabetes. LAUSD leads the country on eating well with healthy food policies. The UTLA campaign can help effectively implement the policies.

Quality Physical Education. The UTLA campaign includes more over time. PE classes should have students from only one grade level, not mixed grades. Teachers should receive continuing professional development training. Girls’ and boys’ PE classes should provide an even playing field for students and teachers. Facilities and equipment should serve the physical education needs of the children and teachers.

Places and polices for students to move more, eat well, stay healthy, and do their best in school.
Our children’s lives depend on it.

Contact the School Board to support children’s health and academic performance.

Board Members

Yolie Flores Aguilar
213-241-6383
yolie.flores.aguilar@lasud.net

Marlene Canter
213-241-6387
marlene.canter@lausd.net

Tamar Galatzan
213-241-6386
tamar.galatzan@utla.net

Monica Garcia
213-241-6180
monica.garcia@lausd.net

Marguerite LaMotte
213-241-6382
marguerite.lamotte@lausd.net

Julie Korenstein
213-241-6388
julie.korenstein@lausd.net

Richard Vladovic
213-241-6385
richard.vladovic@lausd.net

Superintendent David Brewer III
213-241-7000
Fax: 213-241-8442
superintendent@lausd.net

Board of Education
Phone 213-241-6389
Fax: 213-241-8953
or 213-481-9023